UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair an emergency response meeting on Monday to discuss international travel, in particular the flow of freight in and out of Britain, a spokeswoman for his office said.
On Sunday, a slew of nations from Sweden to Turkey blocked arrivals from Britain by air and crucial transit country France moved to block people and goods crossing the Channel.
"The prime minister will chair a COBR (emergency response) meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation regarding international travel, in particular the steady flow of freight into and out of the UK. Further meetings are happening this evening and tomorrow morning to ensure robust plans are in place," the spokeswoman said.
A German government source said restrictions on air travel from Britain could be adopted by the entire 27-member EU and that countries were also discussing a joint response over sea, road and rail links.
Despite growing concerns about the new strain, EU experts believe it will not impact the effectiveness of existing vaccines, Germany's health minister said.
"According to everything we know so far" the new strain "has no impact on the vaccines", which remain "just as effective", Jens Spahn told public broadcaster ZDF.
The assessment was shared by Britain's chief medical officer Chris Whitty.
A new and more contagious strain of COVID-19 has the UK in a Tier 4 lockdown ?https://t.co/QOZ0jMPJac— Complex (@Complex) December 21, 2020
Caution over travels to southern ports
France said it would bar all people coming from the UK for 48 hours from Sunday night, including freight carriers, whether by road, air, sea or rail. Britain's port of Dover said its ferry terminal was closed.
Transport minister Grant Shapps urged Britons, especially hauliers, not to travel to ports in Kent in southern England, warning on Twitter that "we expect significant disruption in the area".
"Following the French government's announcement it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for the next 48hrs, we're asking the public and particularly hauliers not to travel to Kent ports or other routes to France," Shapps said on Twitter.
The travel restrictions come at a difficult time for many British companies, which are engaged in last-minute stockpiling before December 31, when a status quo transition period with the European Union ends and new customs rules come into effect.
Doug Bannister, chief executive at the port of Dover, told Reuters earlier this month that Europe's biggest trucking port was already seeing almost record volumes of trade.
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